The St. Louis Cardinals signed catcher Willson Contreras to a lucrative five-year deal. As it turns out, it was the cheaper option as compared to the trade market.
The St. Louis Cardinals had the unenviable task of finding a replacement for catcher Yadier Molina who retired after this past season alongside Albert Pujols. They had a massive need at the position, and they filled it with the best player available and a name that they know quite well.
On Wednesday, the Cardinals and former Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras agreed to terms on a five-year, $87.5 million contract. While that looks like a pricey deal, it may actually be a cheaper price than the options on the trade market.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals were in talks with the Oakland Athletics for Sean Murphy and the Toronto Blue Jays for Danny Jansen. But he noted that the Athletics had a very high asking price, which included outfielder Lars Nootbaar, infielder Brendan Donovan, and No. 3 prospect (via MLB.com) Gordon Graceffo.
Catcher options on trade market were expensive for Cardinals
“The Athletics sought a return of outfielder Lars Nootbaar, Gold Glove-winner Brendan Donovan, and a power young pitcher like Gordon Graceffo in exchange for Murphy and three years of control, according to a source with knowledge of the talks,” writes Goold. “The Cardinals received a lot of interest in Nootbaar. He was also coveted by Toronto in talks about a trade for catcher Danny Jansen. The Cardinals and Toronto also discussed deals centered around a closer, with some discussion of Ryan Helsley, a source described.”
That is quite the price for Murphy. He is a Gold Glove winner and under team control through the 2025 season. Given the latter, the asking price in trade talks always go up. But considering the Athletics were asking for two of their young major leaguers and a top five prospect, that was a no-go for the Cardinals.
As you read in the quote above, Nootbaar was the popular name for both the Athletics and Blue Jays. This past season, the outfielder recorded a .228 batting average, a .340 on-base percentage, a .448 slugging percentage, 14 home runs, 40 RBI, 53 runs, and 66 hits in 108 games.
The Cardinals made the pivot to Contreras, and Goold writes that they outbid the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros.
With Contreras off the board, maybe a team in desperate need for a catcher will be able to meet Oakland’s asking price for Murphy.